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Staying Grounded during the Holidays

Let’s face it. The Holidays are stressful, in many ways. Whether it is the financial stress of gift buying, or the emotional stress brought on by other factors; that one relative that just loves to push your buttons, the annoying co-worker that has too much punch at the company party, or the stress of travel during a busy time, it is important to your health to try to stay grounded.

Stress is difficult on us physically, as well as emotionally. How we react to that stress plays a big role in how much effect it will have on us and on our health. My thoughts come back to the Serenity Prayer. I was introduced to this in my early teens, while attending a support group for children of alcoholics. It is a simple mantra that echoes in my soul, even today, some 35 years later:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

Courage to change the things that I can

Wisdom to know the difference

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“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”

You can’t change people. Crazy Aunt Sue is always going to try and annoy you. Whether or not you allow her to annoy you, is up to you. If you focus only on her negative qualities, you may forget that she taught you how to play Monopoly like a boss, or she let you stay up way past your bedtime, and gave you chocolate chip pancakes for dinner. Sharing those memories again may be the icebreaker you need to let her know that you do care, no matter how she acts. At the very least, you will feel better for having extended a positive effort.

“Courage to change the things that I can”

Sometimes it’s not people, but activities that add to our stress load during the holidays. Shopping for the perfect gift; attending multiple parties, the expectation to visit each family member, no matter how far away. These are all things that we can change. It is not always realistic to visit multiple friends and family in multiple towns, or attend each and every party we are invited to. The pressure of making a choice and telling someone “no” is just as likely to cause stress. But once you do, you will feel oh so much better!

On my Mothers’ side of the family, I am the middle of three cousins in my generation. My older cousin was the first to have children. Once he did, he quickly realized that everyone wants to see the kids, and expects you to come to them. His wife , being wise beyond her years, put her foot down, announced that Christmas was for kids and since they had the only young child in the family, they would host Christmas at their home. That put the burden of travel on the people without small children, and also took away the stress of having to choose who to see and who to say no to. Genius!

When my daughter came along, we took over the tradition of hosting. We invited family and friends to an “open house” where we had a selection of finger foods and desserts for everyone to enjoy. This worked out great, as I was able to prep most of the food ahead, and without the worry of serving dinner at a specific time, I was able to enjoy spending time with everyone. It also allowed people to come and go at their own convenience.

“Wisdom to know the difference”

It is our natural instinct to want to change things to match our desires or way of thinking. If Crazy Aunt Sue would only listen to reason, if the kids would just get along, if your mother in law would stop telling you how to raise your kids, it goes on and on. At some point, we need to stop beating our heads against the wall, and admit defeat. Better yet, recognize these situations as the things that cannot be changed, and let them be.

 

With Wisdom, comes Serenity

 

 

 

Techniques for staying Grounded

    1. Unwind: Go for a walk, meditate, take a warm bath or shower, and add some essential oils, light a candle, enjoy a cup of herbal tea or glass of wine. Spending even just five minutes a day doing something for you, will make a world of difference in how your body handles stress.
    2. Hydrate: Proper Hydration is essential to a healthy body. It is recommended to consume ½ of your body weight in ounces of water per day. In addition, if you consume diuretic beverages (tea, coffee, soda, and alcohol) you must add an additional 1.5 ounces of water for each ounce of diuretic.
      1. Ex: a 150 pound person needs 75 ounces of water per day. If they drink 8 ounces of soda, they need to add 8 x 1.5 = 12 ounces of water to their daily intake for a total of 87 ounces.
    3. Avoid sugar and processed foods: These are both stressors on the body, causing inflammation, blood sugar spikes, and a stress response within our immune system. Fueling your body with Nutrient Dense Whole Foods is one of the best gifts you can bestow upon your health. 

4. Set Healthy Boundaries: If you are running on empty, you will not be able to take care of yourself, your family or your obligations. If you find that going to that work luncheon, or cookie swap is stressing you out, rather than adding joy to your holiday season, it is OK to bow out and say no